Report by Bob; photos by John, Jocelyn, Mike and Jack
Sunday, August 25th was a beautiful day for running the Pine River from Briarpatch to Walker Bridge. We had a full roster of members: Jackie, Ron, Lois, John, Jack, Tracie, Marlene, Mike T, and Bob M. paddled, Marv run the shuttle. With such a large group on such a narrow river, we broke up into smaller groups to navigate more easily. The water was about a foot lower on this section than on our trip earlier this summer. On our first leg the rapids seemed dark, hiding the huge boulders that lay below. This made it necessary to read the flow through the rapids for clear passage. It remains a beautiful and largely unspoiled river. For canoeists and kayakers, the appeal is fast water and light rapids. We finished our trip ½ hour earlier than planned.
Unlike the previous day’s trip on the Manistee, where the river was wide and all participants paddled in a group, this day our boats were dispersed into smaller clusters voyaging separately down the narrow Pine. The trip started with Lois using her “teacher’s voice” (her term!) to give instructions to the drivers. I am very familiar with this tone. My wife was also a teacher.
After everyone launched I remained in the rear with the sweep. Jackie, Tracie, Ron, and I were talking when Tracie had an idea that almost made me leap out of my boat. “What if we added trips that would allow us to paddle an entire river, by sections, over the course of a year or two?” “Yes!” I thought, “I’m with the right group—like-minded people!” This was my goal when I retired. Now I won’t have to do it alone. Ron agreed with the idea and thought that the club had done this before. If the most experienced paddlers would participate, they have the expertise to guide the rest of us through any difficult situations.
The lunchtime conversation turned to the dangers of rockslides, including the recent cliff collapse in front of 18 kayakers at Pictured Rocks. How scary is that? Before getting back to the river, I made a quick trip to the outhouse. When I returned, I was told I had been unanimously selected to do the trip report. Really? Apparently so!
After lunch, I got into the river ahead of the group. Wrong. Where was Jack? He slipped in ahead of me and took off like a marathon paddler. I thought that Ron and I would catch up to him, but he only slowed down to gain sight of us, then took off again, way out of view.
Finally Jocelyn appeared. She took the lead in her Wenonah. Her silent paddling and expert maneuvering allowed her to come as close as possible to the mergansers swimming ahead, without spooking them. I could see her soaking in the surrounding landscapes as if she was gaining energy from them. Her paddling was rhythmic and precise. Each stroke was expertly placed and executed. She asked, “Do you want to go ahead?” I said, “Sure,” thinking now, “I’m in the lead, first boat out. I could win this race!”
As I approached Walker Bridge, there was Marv. He was waiting, sitting in his truck on top of the access bridge that led to our take-out spot. Now when you see the underside of this bridge he was parked on, you realize that there is only about ½ of the bridge there. Some of the underside is missing! It looked like it was built in the 1800s. He was parked on it with his truck! My mind turned back to the lunchtime conversation--Was I about to be crushed in a paddling disaster? Hmmm. Well, that didn’t happen. Everyone returned safely from a beautiful day on the Pine River. It was an excellent paddle where each of us, either together or separately, had a great adventure. I’m hoping for more great trips to come!
Ron got in without getting his feet wet.
Mike and Jocelyn
Lois and Marlene
Lois plans her route
We were being watched
No photos from me, so here are two (Marlene & Mike) to keep the report accurate.